Trials & Litigation

With latest $10M payment to ex-prisoner, Chicago tally in cases linked to jailed ex-cop nears $70M


Although Eric Caine said he felt better about the 25 years he spent behind bars for two murders he didn’t commit after receiving a $10 million settlement from the city of Chicago, nothing can make up for the lost time.

And he, his lawyers and others at a Wednesday press conference called for further investigation into other cases in which individuals may have been wrongfully convicted, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“They know they’re innocent, but they have little or no way to prove it, and they struggle to get anybody to hear their cries to help them,” said Caine, 47, of other prisoners claiming wrongful convictions who haven’t won release.

With the settlement on Caine’s behalf, Chicago’s total tab—including legal fees—in cases linked to a jailed former police commander Jon Burge nears $70 million, the newspaper says.

Burge and officers who were under his command have repeatedly been accused of physically abusing suspects to obtain confessions. Caine said he falsely admitted to the 1986 murder of an elderly couple after detectives in Burge’s command threatened and punched him as he was handcuffed to a chair in a police station. His confession was thrown out in 2011, and prosecutors dismissed the case.

Burge, who has never faced criminal charges over the claimed torture of prisoners, was fired in 1993 for mistreating a suspect and eventually convicted of perjury concerning his testimony in a civil case concerning police torture. He is currently serving a 4½-year federal prison sentence.

“There are obviously a small number of police officers where there are great clusters of accusations that improper tactics were used and wrongful convictions occurred,” said attorney Jon Loevy, who represented Caine. “The city would have us believe that if we just take care of the Jon Burge cases, the problem will go away. Not so.”

An earlier Chicago Tribune article says Caine’s federal lawsuit over his conviction had been scheduled for a trial in Chicago last month but was delayed pending the settlement. It alleged that a witness who came forward and implicated a neighbor in the couple’s slaying after Caine’s confession was shut down by detectives. The neighbor was subsequently convicted and is now serving a 30-year sentence for stabbing another neighbor in what the suit called a “shockingly similar” home invasion.

The articles don’t include any comment from lawyers or others representing Chicago, except to confirm the amount of the settlement.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Class Action Seeks Hearings for ‘Forgotten’ Chicago Police Torture Victims”

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Top Chicago Cop Accused in Widespread Alleged Torture of Suspects Keeps $3K Per Month Pension”

ABAJournal.com: “AG of Ill. Sues Over Pension Board’s OK of Benefits to Disgraced Police Commander”

Chicago Tribune (opinion): “The travesty of paying Jon Burge”

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